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The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes Release Date, Cast, And Trailer - What We Know So Far

In 2012, "The Hunger Games" film adaptation arrived to fill the void of successful YA blockbusters that had been left in the wake of the end of the "Harry Potter" franchise the year prior. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a young woman in the futuristic dystopian world of Panem, a society that holds a yearly contest that pits teenagers against each other in a televised battle to the death. Katniss begins the trilogy merely fighting to make it out of the Hunger Games alive, but her struggle eventually sees her become a symbol of hope and rebellion against the authoritarian regime. She eventually wages war against the government to free Panem from its grip. 

The film franchise proved to be hugely successful, raking in just under $3 billion worldwide over four entries (via The Numbers), an incredible feat for any series of films. It's not surprising, then, that Lionsgate would be interested in reviving the franchise. And with Katniss' story wrapped up by the end of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2," for its next act, the series will be going back in time with a prequel film. 

Yes, fans will return to Panem once more in "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes." The new film will dive into the history of the divided country while also exploring how Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) rose to become President of the Capitol. Thankfully, we already know a little of what to expect from the prequel, so here's what we know so far about "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."

When will The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes be released?

It has been just over a decade since director Gary Ross steered "The Hunger Games" into theaters back in 2012, and around seven years since the original series wrapped up in 2015. That means fans of the franchise have had to endure a long wait for another trip to Panem. Thankfully, though, Lionsgate has set a release date for "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," and it is coming closer than you might think. 

Back in April 2022, it was announced that the next installment of the "Hunger Games" franchise is set to hit theaters on November 17, 2023 (per Collider). That release date was also confirmed thanks to the recently released teaser for the film (more on that in a moment). While fans are no doubt eager to see the film sooner rather than later, the movie has been making a relatively speedy journey to the big screen. The book it is based on, written once again by Suzanne Collins, was released in 2020, meaning there will be a pretty swift turnaround between publication and the eventual adaptation. 

As for whether the film will successfully land its proposed release date, in 2021 Deadline reported that filming was slated to start in the first half of 2022. Whether or not filming has begun in earnest isn't clear, but seeing as Lionsgate is sticking to their November 17, 2023 release date, we can assume the movie is, at least somewhat, on schedule.

Who's in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cast?

Now that we know the release date, one major question remains: Who is playing a Songbird, and who's playing a Snake? Director Francis Lawrence (who helmed the final three movies of the original series) and Lionsgate have already recruited a pair of actors to play a young Coriolanus Snow and new protagonist Lucy Gray Baird, and it's already looking incredibly promising for the prequel. Tom Blyth will star as the young version of the President, and it'll be interesting to see how he fleshes out the villain after Donald Sutherland's commanding presence in the previous four movies. Blyth isn't hugely well known, but he's recently appeared in projects like Terence Davies' drama "Benediction" and HBO's period series "The Gilded Age."

As for Lucy Gray Baird, she'll be played by "West Side Story" and "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" star Rachel Zegler. She's already proved that she can handle emotional drama thanks to her time working with Steven Spielberg on his version of the classic musical. Audiences haven't seen how she handles action yet, but that'll probably change when the "Shazam!" sequel arrives in theaters on December 21, 2021.

But who is Lucy Gray Baird? A description that appears in Deadline reads, "With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem's attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor." So clearly, Zegler's vocal talents are going to be a huge part of Baird's character.

Is there a trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

There's still a long time to go until the "Hunger Games" prequel arrives in November 2023, but Lionsgate has already treated fans to a gorgeously animated teaser trailer. The teaser already premiered at Cinema-Con in April 2022, but thankfully the studio has finally released it on YouTube. It sees a frozen golden songbird on a branch slowly break free out of ice at the same time that a gold snake starts winding around towards its winged prey.

While the teaser doesn't give any plot details for those who haven't read the source material, we do know that the story follows a young Coriolanus Snow as he works in the Capitol as a mentor for District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird. The pair are forced to navigate the difficulties of the titular tournament and all the politics associated with it together. And we know that Snow's life gets much more complicated as he has a hand in creating some of the key aspects of the games.

It seems that the two titular figures from the teaser are meant to symbolize Lucy Gray and Coriolanus, although it'll be interesting to see whether the film manages to flip those expectations on its head. The animation is also split up by an ominous description that says, "In 2023 the world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake." How moody. 

"The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" is slated to hit theaters on November 17, 2023.